Ben & Jerry’s Sues Unilever to Prevent Sale of Israeli Company

Ben & Jerry’s has filed a lawsuit against its parent company Unilever in an effort to halt the transfer of its Israeli business to a local partner who would keep selling its products in the West Bank.

The US District Court in New York has received a formal complaint that the Vermont-based ice cream company filed on Tuesday.

The ice cream company, in a report by CNN, said they did this to “defend the brand and social integrity Ben & Jerry’s has spent decades creating”.

Since 1987, Ben & Jerry’s has operated in Israel, but in recent years, it has come under fire for carrying products in West Bank settlements that are prohibited by international law. 

Ben & Jerry’s in July 2021 said that it would completely discontinue selling in the West Bank.

Its longtime Israeli distributor, American Quality Products (AQP), filed a lawsuit against Ben & Jerry’s and Unilever in March as a result of the announcement, claiming that they were “illegally ending its 34-year commercial partnership in order to boycott Israel.”

With its announcement last week that it had sold Ben & Jerry’s Israeli company to AQP for an unknown sum, Unilever attempted to put an end to the uproar.

However, the board of Ben & Jerry’s was caught off guard by the decision to sell to AQP, according to its court brief, which stated that its chair had been “stunned” to hear the news.

Ben & Jerry’s board stated in its complaint on Tuesday that a 2000 agreement with Unilever provided for an independent board of directors to legally manage its brand values.

At a board meeting last week, five Ben & Jerry’s directors voted to initiate litigation, with two Unilever appointees voting against it.

Unilever underlined that it “had the right to enter this arrangement” in a new statement on Wednesday.

The Unilever spokesman stated, that the deal has “already closed,” and added that it would not comment on ongoing litigation.

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